Monday, June 29, 2015

the poverty luxe kitchen vol. 14: egg tacos.

funny story: ive never been one for "breakfast foods". like, at all. like, i only just learned to make eggs this year. im not joking. im also not a morning person at all so the idea of cooking breakfast in the morning has zero appeal to me. no joke, i basically ate overnight oats every single morning for an entire year. 

but then i got to the point of this pregnancy where im just starving all the time, and despite my aversion to cooking breakfast, i really needed to be starting the day with more protein. conveniently enough, this was right about the same time that my mom and brother would not stop raving about these egg tacos theyd been making just about every day. my mom described her recipe as a tortilla with an egg, mayonnaise, and tapatio, but obviously after trying them out i had to add my own improvements (which my brother will not stop complaining about). 

and yeah... these are basically perfect. theyre fast and easy and delicious and totally hit the spot when i need something a bit heartier in the morning (or, im just tired of/forgot to make more overnight oats). 

so heres what ive been eating for breakfast (and/or lunch...) most days: 

egg taco. 
(makes one taco)

heres what you need: 

2 corn tortillas (i like to double my tortillas but this isnt entirely necessary)
1 egg
mayonnaise (i like making these with chipotle lime aioli or japanese kewpie mayonnaise)
shredded cheese
salsa or hot sauce (i recommend the salsa autentica from trader joes)

heres what you do: 

toast the corn tortillas in a small frying pan until warm and soft, then spread with mayonnaise and sprinkle with cheese. 

fry the egg to your preference (i like mine over-medium), and place that in the tortillas. 

top with salsa or hot sauce. 

note: one taco will probably not be enough to satisfy you because they are just that good. ill admit that ive reached the point of making myself three most of the time...

what have you been eating for breakfast lately? id love to hear your breakfast favorites in the comments!

Friday, June 26, 2015

6 ways weve turned our clutter into cash (without having a yard sale).

one of the things that has surprised me most with this whole de-cluttering situation is how weve been able to turn quite a bit of our old junk into actual money, especially considering that we live in an apartment on a major boulevard and having a yard sale is completely impossible for us. its not just that we were able to bring in some money that surprised me (though that was a really nice side effect of this big purge), but also just now many yard sale alternatives there are out there. which is great, because, frankly, yard sales are basically the worst thing ever. i mean, theres all the prep work and the obscenely early mornings and the haggling and the still having to take 95% of that crap down to goodwill anyway... but i digress. 

my point here is that there are tons of ways you can make money from your old junk without having a yard sale. honestly, this may have been one of the most important things ive learned through this whole process. now, i do need to put a little disclaimer here and point out that we havent exactly been raking in the dough this way, and this is by no way implying that you (or anyone) is sitting on a fortune and can solve all your financial woes by selling junk (unfortunately ive seen this attitude a few too many times on personal finance blogs), and really letting go of the junk should be a reward in and of itself. the extra money is just icing on the cake.

so how exactly can one go about doing this? well... here are a few suggestions to get started (though, i feel like i should point out that this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, and some suggestions may not be available to you locally). 

1. craigslist. this one is the most obvious, but also my least favorite. if you live in a major city (like we do) you probably have access to a pretty large and active craigslist community ready and willing to snap up whatever it is you post for sale. provided that you manage to get it in the right category at the right time on the right day of the week so that it actually gets seen. craigslist seems to be the best way to get rid of big-ticket items like furniture and appliances (this is how we were able to FINALLY get rid of the old dressers), however, theres also the downside of dealing with crazy lowball offers and flaky people. 

2. local resale groups. this is something i JUST learned about, and i REALLY wish i had known about it sooner. these local groups usually exist on facebook, and are typically a closed group for a very specific area. because the pool of people is smaller, its a little easier for people to see what youre posting for sale, and (at least in my local group) there has been a LOT less haggling and flaky buyers than on craigslist. also, i have been very surprised at the things people are willing to come pick up that wouldnt have even gotten a second look on craigslist. 

3. book off. book off is a local (southern california) chain of used bookstores, that buys your old books (and video games, dvds, etc.) for cash on the spot. obviously theyre turning the books around to sell at a profit so they payout isnt great, BUT theyll take almost any book in decent condition with a valid ISBN number. if you have a lot of books (like we did, 4 or 5 large bags at one point) to get rid of, this is a great way to make a few bucks, AND hopefully get your old books into the hands of someone who will actually use them. 

4. thredup. thredup is basically a HUGE online consignment store, meaning, theyll buy your old clothes (as long as theyre in great condition and meet their strict brand guidelines), and pay you a portion of the selling price. but unlike typical brick and mortar consignment stores, they take womens, kids, AND baby clothes and you dont have to take anything anywhere. you just order a clean out bag, and send off your goods (its completely free!). whatever they decide to sell, they pay you for, and whatever you dont, they donate. also, if you order anything through my referral link, we both get $10 to spend. just saying. 

5. if you dont live in an area with a book off store, have a lot of texbooks or bestseller-type books to get rid of, or dont mind taking a bit of extra time to get rid of your old books, selling them on is super easy and can bring in a surprising amount of money. you can search your books by isbn, price your books a little lower than what theyre currently selling for, and after you ship them off, will pay you (the sale price, plus a shipping fee, minus a little commission) via direct deposit. 

6. instagram. recently, when we were having a hard time getting rid of the huge mirror from our bedroom set (no one on craigslist OR the local resale group was interested), i decided to put a post up on instagram to see if any local friends or followers could use it. i figured, what could it hurt, especially since i only have about 250 facebook friends (and nobody sees anything i post because of how choosy facebook is with what they show people), and about 700 IG followers (some of which HAVE to be local, right?). so i took a couple minutes to put up a post, and it turns out my cousin (who doesnt have a facebook) wanted the mirror and picked it up a couple days later. so, long story short, even if you DONT have the time/energy for a full blown instagram shop or closet sale, instagram can totally be a valuable way to sell things quickly. 

do you have a favorite way to sell things you no longer need? let me know in the comments! 

post signature

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

a black and white shower for baby meyers.

this past saturday, my mom and sister threw baby meyers a sweet little backyard baby shower. the quite-possibly-most-un-baby-showerest-baby-shower ever. which, is precisely what i wanted seeing as how im just not into the typical baby shower routine. 

as always, my family never disappoints there was no pink and blue, no baby decor, no silly games, and no long, awkward present opening. since we dont know babys gender (and this is me were talking about) the theme for the party was black and white, with the main decor throughout the party being fabric buntings: 

square tablecloths, and dainty little flower arrangements (which my sister put together entirely from things that were recycled/from the local salvage fabric store): 

it was all so cute and perfect but also really simple and not distracting from the really important part of the party (the part that i, the pregnant woman, really cared about): the food. remember how my mom works at an olive oil store? (in case you didnt and you live in the los angeles area you really need to check it out), for drinks there was a sparkling water bar with fruit and flavored balsamic vinegars to make custom sodas: 

and a popcorn bar with assorted olive oils and fancy salts: 

(yes, we totally did the exact same thing at my birthday party, but the make your own fancy popcorn is ALWAYS a hit)

then once all the guests had arrived, we had lunch. which, again because this was me were talking about, was pizza. but keeping with the "make your own food" theme that kind of happened, it was build your own pizzas. my mom had par-baked a huge batch of individually sized crusts (and bought a few pre-made gluten free crusts for the few of us that required them), put out a huge spread of toppings: 

and then (why oh whyyyyyy do i not have a picture of this part?) GRILLED THEM ON THE FIRE PIT. as far as parties at my moms house go (which, are typically some very high quality parties) this was probably the best food to ever happen at one. 

since lunch was pretty exciting/ambitious, dessert was really simple, just cupcakes, BUT im putting this here to draw attention to the little flags: that i designed on illustrator to match the invitations even though it was really really hard to do without some kind of template:

ok, and i kind of lied about there being no activities. there was one activity. there was a gender pool, which my sister set up in the cutest way possible: 

heres how it worked: for $5 guests could place a bet on what gender baby meyers would be (hence the two jars, one for girl bets and one for boy bets), the bet slips also had a spot to fill in babys weight, and whoever guesses the correct gender AND weight (without going over, price is right rules over here), wins all the money bet on that gender. losing bets go to the house (in which case, is us and our soon to be endless need of diapers). 

now, i dont have much of an inclination (or preference, honestly) about this babys gender, so it was pretty amusing watching everyone discuss their theories about what the baby is and why, but... it DOES seem like the majority of the votes went into the "boy" jar: 

so, well just have to see about that. 

now, OF COURSE as soon as people started showing up i started to get super overwhelmed and distracted (it was hot, im nine months pregnant and i dont do well with parties, ok?), and i dont have any pictures of our guests enjoying the party (this is precisely why i am not an event photographer or professional journalist of any kind). BUT i do have some new family portraits of the three of us: 

and a few snapshots i stole from a variety of instagrams: 

via @mrswhitecandlesticklibrary

via @em.aee

via @sandsink
even thought the shower itself was short and sweet and mellow and fun, it was exhausting. but in the end, i (well, we) are very, very thankful. for my mom and sister for all the work they did to throw and host the shower, for all the friends and family (especially those that came from far away) who came to celebrate, and for the kindness and generosity that resulted in literally 908 diapers (among other gifts both thoughtful and practical):

ok baby, NOW you can be born...

post signature

Monday, June 22, 2015

the poverty luxe kitchen vol. 13: penne with clam sauce.

well, it seems that were on a bit of a nostalgic kick here in the poverty luxe kitchen (i blame this 100% on pregnancy because i am ALL ABOUT food nostalgia when im pregnant), because today i have another recipe for you guys that from deep in my fondest childhood memories: pasta in white wine clam sauce. 

yeah, i know, i was a really weird kid. but also i was raised in a very um... california? family. and by that i mean i grew up around a much broader and more adventurous attitude about food than the average american family. i mean, i was the pickiest and least adventurous eater in the entire family and i still ended up with a palate that well... lets just say it made my time living in rural arizona EXTREMELY difficult. 

but back to the pasta: for a HUGE chunk of my childhood basically every birthday/holiday involved a dinner at the local buca di beppo (which im assuming had to do with us living within walking distance from one right when it opened/buca was becoming a big thing), and i ALWAYS ordered the linguini with white clam sauce. not pizza, not spaghetti, not lasagna, but the linguini with clams. eventually that became my #1 choice at any italian-ey restaurant that had it on the menu, because, like i already said, i was just really weird, ok? anyway, years went by (several of which i was vegan) and i grew up and for some reason i didnt give that childhood favorite of mine much thought until i impulsively bought a frozen version at trader joes and remembered just how much i love it. 

later i started researching recipes and it turns out, this special-occasion treat dinner that i have absolutely no qualms about dropping 20+ dollars on, its really not hard to make at all. and its basically entirely normal pantry staples. and if you wait for the cans of clams to go on sale, it costs maybe $10 to make a huge, family-sized batch of it (and thats accounting for my super expensive GF noodles). yeah, so what USED to be a special birthday and anniversary treat, is basically just on our normal dinner rotation. 

I know that typically this type of recipe would be made with linguini, but my favorite local italian place makes there gluten free version with penne, which holds up a lot better and has a better texture than gluten free linguini does. so if youre making this gluten free, yes i do recommend using penne noodles, but if not, go ahead and use normal linguini if you want to be more traditional. 

anyway, on to the recipe: 

penne with clam sauce. 

serves 4 as an entree, more as a side dish. 

heres what you need: 

1 lb gluten free penne (this one is my favorite)
1 small onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
2 cans clams (with juice)
1 stick butter
1 cup white wine (i just use whatevers 3/$10 at sprouts)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

heres what you do: 

start by boiling the pasta according to the package directions (note: gluten free pasta needs to be watched more closely than normal pasta because it gets gummy if overcooked). drain and set aside. 

in a very large pan, sauté the onions and garlic on medium-high heat in olive oil until they begin to soften (about 3-5 minutes), seasoning with salt and pepper if desired.

once the onions and garlic are cooked, add the clams (with juice), butter, wine, and lemon juice and stir until butter is completely melted. 

reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook sauce until it begins to reduce and thicken (about 10 minutes), tasting and adjusting seasonings if necessary. 

add pasta and parsley to sauce and toss to coat. 

see, that wasnt difficult at all, was it? next time you need an impressive dinner that wont cost an arm and a leg (or take all day), this recipes waiting right here for you. 

whats your favorite special restaurant dinner? do you ever make it at home? let me know in the comments!

Friday, June 19, 2015

10 questions to help you get through your de-cluttering.

a lot of funny things happen when you start a big de-cluttering project, but one of the least avoidable is the tendency to get stuck. i mean, its a breeze weeding out the obvious trash, and i like to think most of us have a pretty good idea of what our actual essentials are. but then in the middle theres all this... other stuff. the stuff youre not so sure about, the stuff that has potential, the "maybe" pile. 

through our purging  process, weve gone through a lot of maybe piles. and while some have been more difficult to get through than others, we seem to have found a good way to figure out what stays and what goes: asking questions. now, obviously this approach probably works best when youre working with a partner, but i do think that it can also work well for solo de-cluttering too (even if it might feel a little bit silly). 

so, when you get to those things that arent an obvious keep or toss, what should you ask? here are a few of our suggestions: 

1. do i currently use this? ive noticed that a lot of our clutter tended to be older things that maybe we used to use/like but dont anymore, like books, craft/hobby supplies, and decor-type items. while these things might technically be useful, they werent useful to us now so we decided to let them go. 

2. will i reasonably use this in the near future? obviously not everything own HAS to be something you use every day (especially things that are seasonal, like christmas decorations and outdoorsy equipment), but, if you have to make up a complicated (and unlikely) scenario to justify keeping a particular item (for instance, at one point james tried to convince me that we needed to keep a FOURTH camera bag in case between the two of us we needed a separate bag for each camera we own...), you should probably let go of it. 

3. is it worth the space/moving it again and again? james and i moved four times in our first year and a half of marriage, which meant that we had a LOT of boxes of miscellaneous orphan stuff that got shuffled around and shoved in random closets without being sorted through, and upon closer inspection, we realized that wed rather have the closet space than deal with those boxes every time we move. 

4. is it easily replaceable/borrowable? sometimes its hard to make a decision on the bigger things (that maybe you dont want keep storing), because what if you need it later? this is totally understandable, BUT, on the other hand, if its something that could be borrowed or replaced in the event that you need it, then maybe you dont have to keep it around. 

5. would i be in trouble if i didnt have this? on the flip side, there are lots of "just in case", rarely used things that are worth keeping around because not having them on hand when you need them would be an actual problem (especially things like tools and emergency supplies and spare blankets).  

6. am i benefitting from owning this? in recent months ive gotten rid of HUGE amounts of vintage housewares and jewelry/accessory type things. why? because as cute as they all were, they were just sitting around collecting dust and getting in my way. sure they were objectively useful and attractive things, but they werent doing me any good, so they had to go. 

7. could somebody else make better use of this? on a related note, it can be helpful to consider if things would be used or enjoyed more by somebody you know. for instance, once upon a time we were gifted a HUGE amount of high-end loose leaf teas, which were nice, just, not really our thing. so instead of letting them sit around and get stale, we gave them to a friend that really likes tea. it was a total win-win for everyone. 

8. have i used this since i last moved/purged? since all of our previous attempts at purging were done on tight time constraints (and actually, every time weve moved has been on super short notice), a lot of our "maybe"s became "well deal with this later"s because we had to move on. well, upon re-visiting all of this stuff on our latest (slowest, most thorough) purge, we realized that most of those "maybe"s hadnt even been touched. so out they went. 

9. why am i keeping this? im going to be completely, brutally honest here: sometimes we (and by that i mostly mean i) keep things around for really, really bad reasons despite knowing full well that we do not use/like/benefit from owning that thing. reasons like "ive had it a really long time", "so-and-so gave that to me", "it was expensive", or "maybe ill use it someday". i could write a whole other post about this (and in fact, maybe i will), but long story short, do not keep things for bad reasons. trust me. 

10. how many of this thing do i need? at one point cleaning out my closet (maybe a year or so ago), i noticed that i owned something like six blazers. now theres nothing wrong with blazers, except for the fact that im a stay at home mom living in southern california. is it unreasonable for me to have a fancy jacket? not at all. do i need six of them? absolutely not. now i have one, and a LOT more room in my closet for the things i actually do wear. 

hopefully, you wont have to ask ALL ten questions about each item in your "maybe" pile (though, in some instances where james and i didnt agree, weve gotten through quite a few of them before reaching a decision), but, they can be very handy in guiding your de-cluttering efforts. 

are you doing any de-cluttering right now? how do you decide what stays and what goes? 
post signature

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

9 reasons why i am the worst pregnant lady ever.

ive been called a lot of bad things in my lifetime (as im sure most people have), but none of them has ever been truer than when my sister declared me the "worst. pregnant lady. ever." and well, this is a title that i just cant argue with. not even one little bit. because you know what? i do totally suck at this whole pregnancy thing. why exactly? well...

1. i dont do belly pictures. some women feel really confident and attractive during pregnancy. i am not one of those women. i feel like a fat, bloated, greasy whale with about three outfits that fit and i do not want to remember (or be remembered for) looking the way i look now. honestly, im pretty dang shocked at how many pictures of me exist from this pregnancy considering there are exactly three remaining from when i was pregnant with alice. 

2. i dont do "bumpdates". yeah, i know im technically a mom blogger. and im pregnant. but i havent been posting my cravings and symptoms or the status of my belly button or a running tab of my weight gain because frankly, thats nobodys business. also, spoiler alert from a somewhat experienced pregnancy haver: very little changes from week to week and basically all pregnancies are the same. 

3. no gender. were not finding out the gender of this baby. we didnt do it with alice and we wont do it with any future kids we may or may not have. why? because i think its super fun and i like having a big surprise to look forward to at the end of all this. also, there was a somewhat traumatic incident when i was seven where my mom was told for certain that she was having a girl and we were very excited and prepared for a new baby sister named sarah but she turned out to be my brother andrew. i would rather not repeat this scenario. 

4. no names. obviously since we dont know the gender, we havent named this baby in advance. we do have a boy name and girl name picked that we think are pretty solid, but were not telling what they are. partially because of the possibility of situations like the above example of my brother (or the lady i knew once who had baby shower invites printed with the babys name, and then changed her mind before the shower even happened), and partially because once you start letting name ideas out, everyone has something negative to say about the name you picked and tries to get you to use THEIR name idea that you hate. im just not even going to play that game this time. 

5. im really not that into baby stuff. i think ive mentioned my baby registry before, right? in case i havent, its basically just diapers and grey pajamas and a few higher-end appliances that would be nice to have but i really dont care that much about getting. why? because we already have WAY more baby stuff than we need. honestly, i just cleaned out the newborn stuff we were storing at my moms and am considering taking the pajamas off the registry because actually were totally set on clothes. and as for buying things/making the nursery/getting ready for baby? im 36 weeks now and we JUST started...

6. actually i dont even like babies that much. look, i LOVE being a mom, its what ive always wanted to do and generally speaking its pretty awesome. that being said, i honestly dont get whats so great about new babies. i mean, theyre small, which is cute, but they dont do much for a really, really long time. toddlers, on the other hand? toddlers are super fun. im REALLY excited about having another toddler in the house in about a year. (not sarcasm)

7. all this attention makes me really uncomfortable. if it were up to me, we wouldnt have even announced this pregnancy until i started showing up places with an already born baby. why? because the second people know youre pregnant they start getting way up in your business and i am not ok with this at all. im getting a TON of REALLY rude, invasive, and totally inappropriate questions and comments from everyone everywhere i go (dont even get me STARTED on the things people have been asking me at church every week). thankfully i look like a mean, scary person so i havent had to deal with much unwanted belly touching (still not an ok thing to do EVER, just FYI). 

8. i really, really do not enjoy being pregnant. pregnancy tends to get represented as this joyous, exciting, rainbows and unicorns good time where women glow and feel fantastic, and while sure, that stuff is in there sometimes, the majority of it is really weird, gross, and uncomfortable. some of us do not glow. some of us spend approximately 40 weeks sick, tired, and in a lot of pain. i am totally 100% one of those people and im not going to pretend i feel great or am enjoying this process. unfortunately, this is very much the wrong answer to everyone who asks how im feeling and then tries to convince me that i should LOVE being pregnant...

9. honestly, id rather talk about anything else. a new baby is always a big exciting thing and obviously theres lots to talk about: how the pregnancy is going, the fun projects im working on, what were going to do when the babys here, which honestly i dont mind at all. but since im pregnant, all anyone wants to talk about ever is pregnancy and babies (mine or their own or someone they know or stuff they read or whatever). i have literally no idea whats going on in the lives of most people i know (also, i now know WAY too much that i dont want to know about people i barely know), because 99% of conversations i get involved in are about babies and the remaining conversations that i initiate about other topics turn into conversations about babies... i would just really like to talk about something else, ok? 

am i excited about growing our little family? absolutely. do i realize that this whole post made me sound like a huge jerk? of course. its just, im not all that into pregnancy, and im a much, much bigger fan of the baby-living-outside-of-my-body part of this whole having kids thing. 

post signature

Monday, June 15, 2015

the poverty luxe kitchen vol. 12: vegetarian shepherds pie.

i have a funny story about todays recipe: once upon a time my mom started making shepherds pie for dinner on a pretty regular basis. it probably wasnt the most authentic recipe (for starters, it used beef, not lamb), but it was super cheap and fairly simple so i get the appeal. and apparently, i hated it. but according to my mom, she just kept making it until i forgot that i hated it and it eventually became one of my favorite dinners. so much so that when i went vegan as a teenager (yes, i have in fact always been unreasonable), she even went as far as to "veganize" (real word in the vegan community), her recipe and to this day, its still one of my favorite dinners. 

so today were going to make some vegetarian shepherds pie. im posting the vegetarian version of the recipe here, but since this is very easily veganized ive also included the alterations to do so (dont worry, there arent many). 

i would also like to note that the quantities for this recipe are for a 9x13 inch baking pan, which we do not own. instead, i make it in two smaller casserole dishes and put one in the freezer for the following week (this helps with the fact that this recipe unfortunately dirties a lot of dishes). 

now lets go: 

vegetarian shepherds pie. 

serves 6-8

heres what you need: 

approx. 2.5 pounds russet potatoes (i usually use either half of a 5lb bag or 3 big baking potatoes)
1/2 stick butter (or 1/4 cup butter substitute)
splash of milk (or unflavored milk substitute)
olive oil
1 onion
3-4 cloves garlic
basil, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste
2 cans kidney beans
1 can green beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn
1 cup shredded cheese (or cheese alternative, entirely optional)

heres what you do: 

preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

peel and chop potatoes into small pieces, boil in a large pot with salted water until soft (about 10-15 minutes). 

drain potatoes, return to pot and mash with butter and milk, set aside. 

finely chop onion and garlic and saute over medium-high heat in a large pan with salt, pepper, basil and oregano until the onions start to soften. 

drain kidney beans, corn, and green beans very well and add to the pan with the onions and garlic, add tomatoes and stir. 

continue to cook, stirring occasionally until everything is hot and the flavors meld together, adjusting seasoning as necessary (approx 10 minutes). 

place bean and veggie mixture in a 9x13 baking dish (or split between two smaller dishes), and top with a layer of mashed potatoes and cheese. 

bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and starts to brown. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

6 benefits of a minimal lifestyle.

while i wouldnt say that were anywhere near reaching an actual minimalist lifestyle, i would definitely say that we are making our way through the transition to get there (and oh, i do hope we someday get there). it hasnt been easy, and im not sure where the process ever really ends (or if it ever even does end), but even in this short time, we have noticed some major benefits to making this (admittedly, pretty huge) change in our lifestyle):

1. our apartment is magically bigger. for the first two years we lived here, we thought this apartment was SO painfully small we couldnt wait to get out of it. then we got rid of a bunch of stuff and were like "hey this isnt so bad we can make this work until we have a better idea of where we want to live forever", then we really started getting rid of stuff and were like "holy crap this place is HUGE what were we ever complaining about?!". 

2. we spend way less time on chores. now that we dont have to spend forever "picking up" before sweeping/vacuuming the floors or scooting big piles of stuff out of the way to clean the kitchen, and we no longer even own enough clothing to let the laundry pile up for a month, our daily household chores get done so fast. this is great because 1. its freed up tons of time to do even more purging and de-cluttering, and 2. who wants to spend all day doing chores anyway? 

3. somehow, things stay clean. honestly my biggest frustration as a homemaker has always been how as soon as one things cleaned up something else has been torn up and the housework just never, ever ends. well apparently this doesnt happen when every surface of your house isnt piled high with crap. i have no idea how or why this is happening but obviously, im not complaining. 

4. we have so much more money. there are two sides to this one: 1. were not buying much of anything because duh, were trying to get rid of as much as possible and our spending has gone way down, and 2. weve recently taken to selling the bigger/nicer things we dont need and have brought in a surprising amount of extra money. this is great, cause as you know, extra money isnt really something were rolling around in these days. 

5. we keep finding more stuff to get rid of. it seems like every surface/box/drawer that we clear out just uncovers another layer of stuff we dont actually need. this used to frustrate me to no end until i realized this is only helping the house get emptier and cleaner and nicer to live in. 

6. we can actually find stuff when we need it. the best part about owning less stuff is how we actually know what we have and where it is. i used to think not being able to find stuff was an organizational problem, but no, it is very much a having way too much stuff in your house problem. a problem that i am very happy to not be dealing with (as often, i mean, stuff still gets lost just not nearly as badly). 

are there other benefits to a more minimal lifestyle? im sure there are. but these six are definitely the ones that we happen to be the most excited about. 

are you on the minimalist bandwagon? whats your favorite part? id love to hear about it in the comments!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

thoughts on pregnancy, the second time around.

ive been meaning to write this post for a long time, but i kept pushing it back as i realized just how huge and complex of a thing pregnancy is, and how depending on the day, my feelings about it vary pretty wildly. especially when you take into consideration that theres my thoughts/feelings about pregnancy in general, my personal experiences, and this particular pregnancy. i really wasnt sure what i wanted to say or how i wanted to say it or if i really needed to say anything at all but with just a few short weeks (actually, only about a month!) left, and having not really talked about pregnancy at all over here, i figured it was about time to take a minute and share whats been going on in my mind about going through pregnancy for the second time: 

its the same. physically, this pregnancy has been very similar to my pregnancy with alice: i was so, so sick for the first four/four and a half months, had terrible insomnia for the middle part and now that were at the end, im exhausted, in lots of pain, and my weight gain is getting way out of control. honestly the only noticeable difference ive seen is that last time i got terrible skin and awesome hair, where this time i got awesome skin (like, clearer and smoother than its EVER been at any not-pregnant time of my life) and the worst hair. 

but its different. when i was pregnant with alice i was mainly alone: living in a small, unfamiliar town with no job, friends, family, or hobbies, and this time, i have a lot more going on, and its things that i actually like: school, blogging, jamberry, disneyland (plus, i already have a kid to take care of). while at times this has made things harder or more tiring, its also been so much easier mentally and emotionally to have other things besides pregnancy to occupy my mind/time. 

im trying harder. with alice, i really didnt try hard at all to be healthy, active, or prepared to be a parent, i kind of just assumed everything would take care of itself and id be fine. for the most part, it did, but at the same time it made recovery and adjusting to life with a baby much harder than it needed to be. this time ive put way more effort into improving myself, my lifestyle, and our home for the new baby. 

but im also not trying so hard. at least where it comes to shedding my personality and interests in favor of "mom" things. i havent changed how i look or dress or act or any of my life goals to try and be more "mom-ly" the way i did last time. on the one hand this is scary because i really do wonder if ill ever have more than one mom friend, but on the other, its pretty liberating to not be trying so hard to fit in with the other moms, because i know i never really will. 

im more confident. this time i know that i just prefer to be more private about things than is typically expected of pregnant women, and im much more comfortable standing up for myself about the things weve chosen to do differently than the norm (like not finding out the gender or sharing our name choices or moving to a bigger apartment) or giving an honest response to unsolicited advice/opinions, which i was never able to do when i was pregnant with alice. 

but im still terrified. i know alice is three and a half, very smart, very healthy, generally well behaved, and definitely 100% still alive, but that does not change one bit that i spend every second questioning my ability to care for a baby and raise it into a decent human adult without messing everything up. 

im more prepared. last time i didnt buy anything until the last minute and as a result really made a lot of poor registry/purchasing decisions. this time ive actually researched what kinds of things we want/need and even bought my maternity clothes, nursing bras, and stretch mark cream in advance so that i already had them when i needed them. 

just kidding im totally not prepared at all. have i ever mentioned that alice was c-sectioned out long before i went into anything remotely resembling labor? i have literally no experience with contractions, or labor or birth or any of the gross things that go along with that, just the worlds most boring c-section. so yeah, i have no idea whats going to happen here, and i have like, a month, tops, before i find out. 

so yeah, thats whats going on in my mind right now. what are you up to these days? 

Monday, June 8, 2015

the poverty luxe kitchen vol. 11: easiest green beans.

guess what? i have a treat for you guys today: a vegetable recipe, thats not roasted. wait, what? yes, sometimes i do cook veggies in ways other than roasting. sometimes. 

i actually have a confession to make: i am not a fan of putting much effort into side dishes. im just lazy in that way, ok? i know some people get really into making an elaborate meal with all kinds of complicated sides (my in-laws, for example, have an entree, salad, and multiple sides at every single dinner), but me? no, i cant do that. the vast majority of dinners i make are all-inclusive (as in, protein, vegetables, and something starchy), and if not, i throw some kind of vegetable in the oven while its cooking (hence the excess of roasted veggies in the meyers house). 

but sometimes its too hot to turn on the oven, or maybe we want something other than asparaguscabbagebrussels sproutscarrotsbutternut squash, or kale. so for those nights (and also around the holidays when green beans are practically free), im a big fan of making these: the easiest green beans ever: 

easiest green beans: 

serves 4. 

heres what you need: 

1 lb fresh green beans, washed, cleaned, and broken in half
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil
lemon pepper

heres what you do: 

heat olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté garlic until it starts to brown (2-3 minutes). 

add green beans and sprinkle with lemon pepper to your preference. 

continue to cook, stirring occasionally until crunchy and starting to blacken in spots (5-10 minutes). 

and thats it. thats literally it. and now you have a fresh, delicious veggie side dish that took zero effort and cost a dollar or two. your welcome.